Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey: “The risk takers are rewarded.”

Kevin SpaceyIBM was pushing its CAMS (cloud, analytics, mobile and social) agenda at last month’s Impact 2014 conference, along with its composable business (a collaboration model between IT, line of business and development teams) concept. However, other than hearing multiple customers explain how they were transforming their businesses, I found the biggest benefit of the conference was the keynote by actor, director, and impressionist Kevin Spacey. He talked about change and taking risks, and while most of his focus was on the entertainment industry, he provided plenty of food for thought for the audience of 9,100 business and IT executives.

I’ve been following the IT industry for more than 30 years, and while the changes IT has driven have been nothing short of incredible, they pale in comparison to what is coming. CAMS is changing EVERYTHING! I recently wrote a pair of blogs about business disruption Disrupt or be Disrupted, and Disrupt Or Die and that was the focus of Spacey’s presentation.

“We should all aspire to be innovators,” he said. “The risk takers are rewarded.”

Avoiding risks is not an option. According to Forrester Research, there are at least ten times as many innovators gunning for your business as compared to before, and the costs of entry are less than one-tenth what they were. “They’re not all going to fail — some of them are going to succeed, and they will disrupt your business.”

Just look at software-defined networking. SDN vendors are cropping up all over the place, and with networks staggering under ever-increasing demands and standards still evolving, it’s a mad race to the finish line between incumbents and new players — either start-ups or those moving over from adjacent markets.

Immediately after IBM’s little party, EMC hosted its annual event, where VMware celebrated its emergence as a data-center networking visionary, courtesy of its Nicira acquisition. A month earlier, Silver Peak, which is pushing its software-based strategy, made the news when Gartner elevated it to Leader category in its latest Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization.

These are disruptive times, which are creating opportunities for creators and innovators, said Spacey. “Technology is empowering the rule breakers.”

The rules don’t matter anymore, he added, and the need for innovation never ends. “Even if we find success, we need to find the courage to continue taking risks!”